Fossgate

Fossgate

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York resident and regular contributor. Fascinated by this historic city and always keen to promote local, independent businesses. The man taking the photographs and tweeting from @Jorvik

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Fossgate was part of the Roman’s south easterly route from their fortress. Named after the River Foss it was made a proper street in the Viking era when a wooden bridge was built over the river connecting Fossgate to the new street of Walmgate and runs from Pavement down to Foss Bridge. In medieval times a chapel dedicated to St William stood on the bridge.

Rowntree’s chocolate empire stems from their purchase of a small Fossgate cocoa business belonging to Mary Tuke, distant cousin of Henry Isaac Rowntree. Today, chocolatiers and confectioners plus some of the finest restaurants in York (many serving sea food) and a variety of shops, bars and cafes ply their trade along the ancient street.

Fossgate’s Loch Fyne seafood restaurant, a former ironmonger’s shop, is appropriately on the street of York’s famous seafood market. The two-hundred-year-old Foss Bridge replaced an earlier bridge on which the medieval seafood market was held. At 11am the tolling of the scatty (skaite) bell or Scatybell, from the nearby St Mary’s Chapel declared the market open; fish from Whitby and Grimsby was brought distances of 50 miles to the market via pack horse. Fossgate also had a Victorian fish market.

In 1327 80 Lincolnshire archers were buried under one stone in St Clement’s churchyard, Fossgate, following a skirmish with the Hainaulters while fighting the Scots on the side of Edward III. Although records show this church was still in use in the early 15th century little is recorded thereafter. Fossgate once had its own gallows, as did many other parishes; unlikely as it seems these were initiated by the Archbishop of York.

The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is accessed via a passageway from Fossgate. One of the best preserved medieval guild halls in the world, founded in 1357 it is still used for its original purpose. Trinity Hospital, Fossgate, was built between 1371 and 1373, housing 30 sick poor in 1411. It is said to have come under the York Merchant Adventurers in 1422/23, and was certainly used by them as a meeting place from the 16th century. It went on to become almshouses.

Several late 16th and early17th-century buildings can be seen on Fossgate. At the rear of number 13-14 is Morrell Yard where a medieval well was discovered, full of rubble and potential antiquities though too deep for excavation at around 16 metres.

Mid-19th– century Fossgate housed many poor workers who frequented the pubs of the area. In the early 1900s there were 20 pubs, four off-licences and a club between Fossgate and Walmgate Bar – in only a short distance. However, Fossgate became a very fashionable street in the early 20th century having the first purpose-built cinema in the city, the Electric Cinema, in1911. This became the Scala in 1951; the remarkable building adorned with theatrical figures is now a furniture showroom.

Fossgate’s Grade II listed Blue Bell is the smallest pub in York. Records show it was in use as a pub in 1790.

York Castle Museum’s new shop‘The Little Dust Pan’ is named after an original Victorian Fossgate ironmonger’s.

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